While Filipino food has recently become trendier than ever in countries such as the United States, restaurants in the Philippines rarely get the recognition they deserve — particularly those in the capital. Manila’s dining scene is as dynamic and innovative as they come, and there are many gems that stand out for their culinary vision, which can only truly be experienced via their degustation or tasting menus.
Behind each of these multi-course offerings is a strong, chef-led vision that shows Manila is ready to be recognized as one of Asia’s top dining destinations. Read on for our guide to some of Manila’s most tantalizing tasting menus — from the city’s most acclaimed eateries to up-and-coming private concepts — that you need to add to your culinary bucket list.
Gault et Millau-awarded chef Aaron Isip has opened up his home — inspired by the dreamy bohemian aesthetic of Tulum, Mexico — for a special dining and entertaining experience within the hip district of Poblacion in Makati City. Guests can partake in a sumptuous 17-course seafood menu in its dining spaces and then head to the second floor for cocktails at the moodily-lit Speakeasy bar, hang outdoors by the roof deck, or even enjoy a film in the theater room.
Balai Palma is on Palma Street, Poblacion, Makati City. Reservations accepted from Thursday to Saturday, 7pm onwards. Check them out on Instagram.
Lasa Supper Club
A family-run pop-up, Lasa Supper Club calls itself “a welcoming space for foodies alike to come together, network, and experience upscale dining that’s rooted in Filipino culture and flavors.” Mother-and-son duo and chefs Ging and Joaquin Carsi-Cruz aim to bring people together by rediscovering flavors and memories inspired by their childhoods — from a kape yosi starter, featuring sourdough pandesal and coffee-butter jam from Sagada, to an elevated take on the streetside pares Retiro reimagined as a French bordelaise. Like a true supper club, it aims to foster a social dining experience — guests are encouraged to bring their own bottles of wine.
Lasa Supper Club is at The Felicidad Mansion, San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City. Check out their Instagram page to stay updated on their pop-up events.
If degustation menus can feel a little stiff and hoity-toity for your liking, then private dining space Hapag in Katipunan, Quezon City is bound to change that — a relaxed dining atmosphere welcomes patrons while its current 17-course Filipino menu is steeped in comforting flavors: chicken inasal crackers, the chocolatey champorado and tuyo (dried fish), and Ilocos empanada ease diners into the progression of dishes, while mains such as uni arroz caldo deliver a delightful depth to the familiar.
Hapag is along Katipunan Extension, 201 Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City. Reservations accepted from Wednesday to Sunday. Inquire at +63 947 560 1853 from 2pm to 6pm. Visit their Instagram.
While chefs around the metro have begun dissecting their own takes on Filipino fare through their dishes, Metiz’s Stephan Duhesme revisits culinary heritage through the age-old technique of fermentation — there is no shortage of curing and aging in the dishes presented in the various phases of Metiz’s menu, from its appetizers to main dishes and even its dessert.
Metiz is open from Tuesday to Sunday at Karrivin Plaza, Chino Roces Extension, Makati City. Contact 09177004109 for reservations. Visit their Instagram page.
Acclaimed restaurateur Elbert Cuenca joined forces with Joel Robuchon-trained chef Miko Calo and former Shangri-la Makati general manager Alain Borgers to create Metronome, undoubtedly one of the most refined dining spots in the country. While Calo’s culinary techniques and leanings are undoubtedly French, her unique background of being Mindanao-born and Manila-educated enables her to add a more playful touch to the typically-restrained cuisine.
Metronome is open from 11am-2pm and 5pm-11pm every Tuesday to Saturday
Chef Rob Pengson is no stranger to tasting menus, having opened Manila’s pioneering degustation restaurant, the cheekily named The Goose Station, at a time when haute cuisine offerings were few and far between in the city. Marrying Filipino and Spanish influences, Pengson describes his food as Filipiniana, showcasing a collection of influences that shape the country’s identity today. This can be seen in their take on the classic paella, dubbed Seafood Kare-Kare Paella, that incorporates local techniques and produce.
Beso Beso is open from 5pm to 11pm every Tuesday to Sunday, at 2/F Autometics Center, 2257 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City. 0917 179 2562. Make reservations at 0917 179 2562. Check out their Instagram page.
After closing his private dining space to further immerse himself in Filipino cuisine, 23-year-old chef Don Baldosano recently opened Linamnam MNL once again in his family home. His new tasting menu goes far and wide into the country’s rich culinary heritage to deliver newer and bolder takes on local food. The Jordy Navarra-trained chef once chronicled the culinary journey of Ferdinand Magellan through the writings of Antonio Pigafetta in one of his themed dinners, so we can only imagine what he’ll come up with next.
Linamnam MNL is open from Monday to Saturdays, 6pm-11pm at 31 Greenvale 2, Marcelo Green Village, Parañaque City. Check out their Instagram.
Chef Jordy Navarra, a recipient of the Miele One to Watch Award in 2018 and the owner of Toyo Eatery in Karrivin Plaza, Makati City, is undoubtedly at the forefront of the country’s growing culinary scene. Trained in international culinary hotspots, including The Fat Duck in the UK and Bo Innovation in Hong Kong, his progressive take on Filipino cuisine and unique understanding of the nuances of our food heritage landed him on the radar of international foodies and earned Toyo Eatery a spot on the prestigious 50 Best Restaurants in Asia list.
Toyo Eatery is open for dinner from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 2316 Chino Roces Avenue, Magallanes, Makati City. Contact them at +63 917 720 8630 for reservations or visit their website.
Gallery by Chele
Spanish-born chef Chele Gonzalez comes with a resume that’s hard to beat, having worked in two different restaurants that have been named the world’s best: Spain’s El Bulli and Denmark’s Noma. He’s taken everything he’s learned to create dishes that celebrate the Philippines’ most impressive ingredients, regularly touring the country’s islands to source produce and inspiration for his restaurant, Gallery by Chele, another Asia’s 50 Best awardee.
Gallery by Chele is at 5F Clipp Center, 11th Ave corner 39th St, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Visit their website for reservations.
Another restaurant to earn a spot on the Asia’s 50 Best list, progressive Japanese restaurant Mecha Uma (which translates to absurdly delicious) is the brainchild of chef and restaurateur Bruce Ricketts, whose California upbringing can be seen in the playful and innovative takes seen in the 13-course omakase menu.
Mecha Uma opens for dinner between 6pm to 9pm at G/F RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center, 25th St, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. DM them on Instagram or contact 0919 084 5537 for reservations.